Reading newspapers: Nothing quite like it

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Reading newspapers: Nothing quite like it

I was in middle school when I started reading newspapers regularly. “It was in the newspaper, how can you not know?” a friend had asked me, and I thought I had to read newspapers to learn about new things.

I asked my parents to get a subscription. I found a job as a reporter for that newspaper and have been working for 28 years.

For the generation that went to college during the turbulent years of the assassination of Park Chung Hee, the coup d’etat of December 12 and the Gwangju democratization movement, newspapers were a ray of hope. I was looking for truth between the lines written by reporters who were heavily censored. Most of my friends also believed university students should read the newspapers closely.

A few days ago, a professor who requires his students to read newspapers during his lecture was featured in the JoongAng Ilbo. Professor Shim Hoon, who teaches communications at Hallym University, begins his lecture with about 20 minutes of newspaper reading and requires students to submit proof of their subscriptions. Every week, he gives a quiz on current affairs.

Nowadays, not many young people read newspapers. When I gave a lecture at a university, I asked the students if they read printed newspapers. Only a handful raised their hands. Others claimed news was more accessible via computers and smartphones.

There’s no denying that online news is both accessible and convenient, but there is no substitute for reading a newspaper, which broadens and deepens one’s knowledge. Reading a newspaper is a complex experience of seeing, touching and hearing, so the information remains in the memory, explains Professor Shim.

Park Jie-won, head of the Democratic United Party’s emergency committee, emphasized the importance of reading newspapers when he gave a lecture to first-time lawmakers titled “The Attitude of a Politician,” joking that “even Jesus would have made sure the reporters had arrived to cover his resurrection if he were in the 21st century.”

For politicians, the media is tremendously important. He asked the lawmakers to get into the habit of rising an hour earlier to read newspapers. Only when they are fully knowledgeable in current affairs can they ask relevant questions and attract publicity for their activities, he said. The rookies can certainly learn a thing or two from the veteran.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok
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